-- Last Updated: Nov-01-12 1:10 PM EST --
Agree with kayakmedic.
I'd get a good quality, straight shaft paddle with a t-grip.
To maintain forward momentum; I'd be using the j stroke to make the corrections necessary to keep the Courier on course, instead of doing a lot of sweeping, or drawing.
I wouldn't move the seat; I would set it up with good knee padding, and if you are physically capable, use a kneeling position.
The Courier is a fairly high volume boat, and it takes a heavy paddler, and a good sized load of gear to get it down in the water. If you're just using it for day tripping & carrying day tripping gear; you're gonna have a lot of freeboard. It will be affected by wind from any direction.
With more paddling time, I'm betting you'll adapt to the canoe & feel more comfortable, and under control. I think the Courier is a good canoe for the person who likes to do multi night trips, and does not skimp on gear. I don't think Mad River intended it to be a whitewater canoe, but it can easily deal with some high class 2, or low class 3 water, if bagged out, and paddled by a skilled paddler. Too long & too wide for messing around in rock gardens, in my opinon.
If I hadn't needed the rack space for another canoe; I'd still have my Courier(which I sold to wildernesswebb). Kind of regret selling it; Couriers in excellent condition are getting very hard to find. Luckily, I have an original Mad River Guide to soothe my loss.
The most fun I had in mine was paddling the Buffalo River in Arkansas, as it was dropping down from flood stage. It ran some decent wave trains & took on very little water, easily bailed out with a sponge. It's manueverabilty is quite good for a long boat.
I think it's a pretty canoe too.